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KTM 1290 Super Duke RR (2023) - Technical Review

KTM 1290 Super Duke RR (2023) - Technical Review
18 Mar
Written by Ben

KTM first added an extra ‘R’ to the 1290 Super Duke R back in 2021 with a 500-off limited edition and a hefty price premium over the standard model. Now it’s back for 2023 with another run of 500 machines and an even bigger price.

Just like the original Super Duke RR, KTM’s headline is a claimed 1:1 power-to-weight ratio in hp per kg, although it’s not a number that stands too close an examination. In reality, the ‘180hp’ claim is in metric PS rather than BHP, and the 132kW peak power actually converts to 177bhp. That’s the same number that you’ll get from the stock Super Duke R, so the real magic comes from weight reduction to a notional 180kg. Again, though, it’s a figure to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it doesn’t include fluids. In ready-to-ride form with a full tank of fuel the Super Duke RR is around 200kg, and even KTM’s own figures put its empty-tank weight at 189kg. However, it’s still a bike that’s 9kg lighter than the standard Super Duke R, with higher spec components and an exotic carbon fibre seat subframe.

Pros & Cons
Another chance to get the Super Duke RR, two years after the original batch sold out
9kg lighter than the standard Super Duke R
Dripping with exotic bits
The claimed 1:1 power to weight ratio doesn’t stand close examination
Don’t bank on too much exclusivity, as this is already the second run of bikes

2023 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE RR price
At the moment prospective buyers in the UK are being told to simply contact a dealer to get an order in before the 500 Super Duke RRs are sold out, but in mainland Europe the bike’s price tag is €26,990, which equates to £23,800 at current exchange rates. That’s a fair bit more than the £21,499 of the 2021 model but you probably don’t need us to explain how much inflation there’s been since then.

Given KTM’s huge success with limited-edition bikes in recent months, with machines like the Brabus 1300R and RC 8C selling out rapidly after their announcements, the price isn’t likely to be a hurdle to selling the RR. The same applied to the original version of this bike in 2021 – although customers of that machine might be miffed to see more being built, albeit in different hues.

2023 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE RR Engine & Performance
The engine is the familiar 1301cc LC8 V-twin that’s been the centrepiece of the 1290 Super Duke since its inception. The RR version doesn’t get any extra performance – power remains 177hp, with torque pegged at 103 lb-ft – but in such a small, light package you’re unlikely to feel that you’re getting short-changed on the horsepower front.

By cutting weight by 9kg compared to the standard Super Duke R, the RR does improve its power-to-weight ratio and hence should be a tad quicker against the clock, while the higher-spec parts and greater focus on track use will make lap-times faster as well.

Optionally, you can replace the standard slip-on Akrapovic carbon and titanium silencer with a full titanium, track-only Akrapovic Evolution Line system.

2023 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE RR Handling, weight and suspension
Where the stock Super Duke R has WP Apex suspension front and rear, the RR uses Apex Pro parts with the Apex Pro 7548 forks and Apex Pro 7746 shock, plus an Apex Pro 7117 steering damper. This is where plenty of the extra cost goes, since none of those are cheap components: on the aftermarket the forks alone are over £2200, the rear shock is north of £1300 and the steering damper is a £300 part.

Elsewhere, it’s a matter of slicing off grammes all over the bike. The triple clamp is a CNC machined part that’s 320g lighter than stock. The 7-spoke forged alloy wheels are 1.5kg less than the R’s versions (and KTM claims they’re developed from the RC16 MotoGP bike programme). Track-oriented Michelin Power Cup 2 rubber ratchets the cornering ability up another notch.

The one-piece carbon rear subframe might be the most notable weight-saver, but it’s actually to the credit of the stock bike’s aluminium version that the switch to carbon only cuts mass by 800g. It’s visually different, too, with a sharper, higher tail than the standard Super Duke R and a different LED taillight and indicators.

Far less visible, but more significant in weight terms, is the lithium battery, which saves 2.5kg compared to the standard model’s lead-acid cells.

2023 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE RR Comfort & Economy
By using the same engine spec as the standard Super Duke R, the 1290 Super Duke RR gets surprisingly good economy figures. KTM says that on a combined cycle, it manages 5.4l/100km, which equates to more than 52mpg in more familiar UK numbers. That means a range of around 180 miles from the 16-litre tank.

Comfort? The Super Duke RR probably isn’t the bike for you if that’s at the top of your priority list, although the adjustable-height rear suspension means the seat can be dropped to 837mm at its lowest setting, just 2mm higher than the standard Super Duke R. In its standard setting, the seat sits at 847mm, 12mm higher than the base model’s.

That seat is claimed to be designed to be comfortable for long track sessions or street rides, though, and the addition of 12-position adjustable Gilles footpegs, CNC machined from aluminium, and adjustable bars with four possible positions allows further tailoring to your own shape and size.

The brake lever is adjustable (as is the clutch lever) and the rear brake and gearshift can also be moved to one of three different positions. For track use, the shift can be set to a reverse pattern.
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR (2023) - Technical Review
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR (2023) - Technical Review
KTM 1290 Super Duke RR (2023) - Technical Review

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